Sunday, February 12, 2017

Burkina Faso: Between Taiwan's active public diplomacy and China's business attractiveness

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Jean-Pierre Cabestan, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, published online on 23 Jan 2017


Burkina Faso and Taiwan restored official relations in 1994, after which Taipei's aid has been generous. Taiwan's approach to official development assistance has remained largely traditional, closely linking its public diplomacy to its foreign policy objectives. Trade between both countries has remained very modest. In the same period, because of mainland China's rise and active strategy of ‘going out’, Burkina Faso has developed a robust trade and business relationship with China. As a result, the pull to establish official ties with China (and thus end ties with Taiwan) has become a domestic political issue. After the ousting of President Blaise Compaor√© in 2014, a failed coup and then the return to democracy as seen in the November 2015 elections, this debate has become more public. While Burkina Faso has remained faithful to Taiwan and continues to publicly appreciate its assistance, there is no certainty that the political values that both Burkina Faso and Taiwan share will prevent a Burkinabe move towards China.

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